In part one of this series we looked at how the majority of UK children don’t get the government-recommended minimum of 60 minutes’ moderate exercise per day, and ways to address this.

The activities suggested for a healthy lifestyle can be categorised as four main types: everyday activities; getting out in nature; organised sports; and active play.

Here we’ll consider each in a bit more detail.

Everyday activities for a healthy lifestyle

Doing 60 minutes of exercise every day can sound a bit intimidating. However, any activity that lasts at least 10 minutes and leaves kids out of breath, but still able to carry on a conversation, counts.

This means that everyday activities like walking or cycling to school or the shops, gardening and housework can all contribute to that 60-minute goal and a healthy lifestyle.

Students offering to help out in the garden or home can all add to their activity levels and get some brownie points with their parents.

Getting out in nature

There is a huge amount of research showing the physical and mental benefits of being out in nature – try googling that sentence and see how many hits you get.

To highlight just one, a study in Scotland found a high correlation between lowered levels of stress and access to green spaces. A walk in the park, volunteering at a local nature reserve, a run around a lake – all count and all will leave students feeling better both physically and mentally.

The big conservation charities all have volunteering opportunities, as well as activity programmes aimed at children to promote a healthy lifestyle; see the box below for further details.

Organised sports

This is the obvious one – football, netball, hockey, cricket. In fact all those sports that students take part in during PE lessons.

But these activities don’t have to be confined to lesson times. After-school clubs are a good way of getting kids involved, or you could encourage them to organise their own matches at weekends.

Active play

This includes all those playground games we used to play, such as tag, polo, what’s the time Mr Wolf and stuck in the mud. These fun games often involve co-operation, teamwork, short bursts of running around, and are especially good for younger children.

Introducing youngsters to these activities is a good way for them to develop physical literacy, giving them the skills, confidence and love of movement to remain active for life. So next break time, why not try resurrecting some of these games?

There are plenty of activities students can take part in, both at home and in school, to reach that recommended goal of 60 minutes exercise a day. In the next part of this series, we’ll look at specific ways to encourage them to actually get out and do something.

Kids and nature

Being out in nature has many physical and psychological benefits.

One study has even suggested that it could be used to treat children with ADHD, reduce stress and anxiety and improve concentration, as well as promote health and fitness.

The major conservation charities all have programmes aimed at getting kids out in nature, as well as a variety of volunteering opportunities. These organisations look after thousands of reserves, parks, gardens and stately homes all across the country.

Click on the links below for further information.

Kids’ activities: Wildlife Trusts; National Trust; RSPB

Volunteering: Wildlife Trusts; National Trust; RSPB

 

Rebecca has been a writer and editor for almost 20 years. She writes on a huge range of subjects, concentrating on sport, nature, mental health, and crafts.